Leading Republicans are distancing themselves from Donald Trump after footage and audio surfaced of the candidate discussing women in graphic, degrading terms. The video, obtained by the Washington Post, suggests he may have also engaged in predatory behavior toward the married woman discussed, and other women he has come across over the course of his public career.
“It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” he said. “And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Party leaders like senator Mike Crapo of Idaho and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, as well as former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, have publicly un-endorsed Trump’s candidacy, and are calling on him to step down—presumably to be replaced by running mate Mike Pence, governor of Indiana.
Pence himself has strongly condemned Trump. “I do not condone is his remarks and I cannot defend them,” he said in a statement released by his staff on Tuesday (Oct. 8).
But only one candidate on the Republican ticket has concrete political legacy of oppressing women. Mike Pence has enacted real policies that have had real, adverse impacts on American women.
In 2013, under Indiana’s draconian anti-abortion laws, many of which were signed into being by governor Mike Pence, 33-year-old Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of “feticide”—knowingly placing a “dependent” in a situation that endangered their life, according to the affidavit submitted by the state of Indiana. Patel was the first woman in the US to be charged, convicted, and sentenced on such charges.
The facts of the case are as follows: Patel went to an emergency room after experiencing pain and heavy bleeding following a miscarriage. The doctor who examined her suspected self-induced abortion and called the police while Patel was under heavy sedation. When she awoke, she was interrogated by police officers, to whom she initially denied her pregnancy, but later admitted to miscarrying and disposing of the fetus in a dumpster. Hospital tests showed no trace of abortifacient in her blood.
Nevertheless, under Pence’s set of laws, Patel was convicted of feticide and served a full year of her sentence before being released. (A judge had reduced the sentence to under the time period already served.)
In addition, Pence’s Indiana adds insult to injury by forcing women who abort—even at the earliest stages of pregnancy—to hold funerals for the unborn fetus and pay for funerary services.
“Donald Trump and I would never support legislation against women who make the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy,” Pence said in the Oct. 3 debate against Hillary Clinton’s running mate, senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. But the case of Purvi Patel shows that women who’ve even so much as miscarried are fair game. To Mike Pence, lives of the unborn may be sacred—but a woman’s worth can only be understood in terms of her childbearing capabilities.
So for those who think Mike Pence would pose as a better candidate for women than Donald Trump, keep this in mind: Whereas Trump insults women, Pence punishes them. On the Republican ticket, there are no options that respect women or their autonomy beyond empty words and apologies long overdue.